From the Archives: Fall 2005 Lupus Now Magazine
Bah, Humbug? Banish your holiday stress
by Gerri Miller
Your gift list is bigger than your bank balance. Your office holiday party is the same time as your child's school play. And just the thought of decorating, cooking, or braving a crowded shopping mall fills you with dread. If this sounds familiar, you are not alone.
The holiday season can be more than hectic, and for people with lupus, the financial, physical, and emotional demands of the season may add health-compromising stress that can turn a joyful time of year into a miserable one. But there is good news! You can cope with the chaos and stay healthy just by making a few simple changes.
Just Say No!
Don't overcommit yourself -- you don't have to accept every party invitation. Figure out what is manageable and eliminate what you can't handle. Don't feel guilty. No one will complain if you bring cookies from a bakery instead of homemade ones. And if you decide to skip a party, you can make it up to the hostess with an invitation to lunch sometime early in the New Year. Put yourself and your health first.
You can't do it all yourself. Ask family members for help with decorating, cooking, and cleaning. Consider splurging for maid service or having your holiday meal catered or hold it at your favorite restaurant. Offer a teenage neighbor a few dollars to do your gift wrapping or put up holiday lights.
Too many gifts to buy and too little cash? Avoid the guilt that can come with buying too many things you just can't afford. Although using credit cards may seem like an easy solution, this habit can be a stressful burden when the bills start to roll in. One way to relieve the financial pressure of the holidays is to become a shopper who's savvy and smart:
- Talk with family, friends, and co-workers about setting spending limits on gifts.
- Play the Christmas Angel game, where everyone's name goes into a hat and you buy only for the person whose name you select.
- Consider buying presents only for the children in the family.
- If you're crafty and have the time, save money by decorating inexpensive picture frames or terra cotta flowerpots you can fill with candies or a cutting from your favorite plant. Or decorate a plain, inexpensive T-shirt with paint or embellish it with ribbons or sequins.
- Save time by shopping the Internet for books, music, event tickets, gift baskets, and just about anything else, and the shipping will be done for you. There are also plenty of gift ideas at the LFA's online store.
- Make donations to the Lupus Foundation of America in gift recipients' names, or make purchases from the LFA online store or from LFA chapter sites to support lupus awareness in your area.
- Plan ahead for next year. Look for bargains year-round, starting with after-holiday sales.
Take Care of You
Avoid holiday burnout by getting plenty of rest, pacing yourself, and napping when you need to. Don't set unrealistic expectations for yourself or others that can lead to disappointment and depression.
Take a walk, do yoga, or read a book to replenish your body and spirit. If you need a good laugh, nothing beats renting a good holiday movie like Love, Actually or The Santa Clause for a great pick-me-up.
And last, reach out. Talking about your feelings with friends, loved ones, or a support group can help you get through the season -- joyfully.